How to Make a Claim of Presumed Death – Part One

If you are the executor for the estate of somebody who is missing and you have grounds to believe they have passed away, you need to apply for a certificate of presumed death before carrying out your responsibilities. In this two part series, Prestige Tax and Trust Services explain how to make a claim of presumed death.

Claim criteria

You must fulfil certain criteria to make a claim of presumed death. First, the person in question must have been missing for seven years or more.  A claim can be made earlier if you have reasonable grounds to believe the missing person has died as a result of a natural disaster

Second, you can only submit the claim if you are the person’s spouse, child, parent or sibling. Otherwise, you must prove that you have sufficient interest in the case to make a claim, e.g. you can prove you are a distant relative via a birth certificate. If you fulfil these criteria you can make a claim for a certificate of presumed death. If not, you will need to enlist the aid of somebody else to take this course of action, so you can administer the deceased’s estate.

Making a claim

To make a claim, download and complete form N208 which is available either in English or in Welsh. Make sure you include details about yourself and the person in question, as well as the claim itself. You should then send the appropriate form to a Court which takes High Court cases, along with the claim fee of £480. If you wish pay via cheque you should make it payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service.’

You need to send multiple copies of the form, one copy for each relevant party named in the application, as well as a copy for the Court itself. You will also need to submit any supporting evidence, such as police reports and statements from witnesses. The Court will then stamp your form with an issue date. They will hold one copy back but send the others to you with a case number and the necessary ‘acknowledgement of service’ form.

Completing a claim

You must then send copies of your claim to relevant parties within seven days of its issue date. You should submit the acknowledgement of service and form N208 to the missing person’s nearest living relative. This will usually be their spouse of civil partner, parents, children or siblings. You must also send these forms to any organisation e.g. an insurance company or individual who may have an interest in the person in question.

There are two other required legal steps you need to take to get a certificate of presumed death. First, you must advertise your claim in a newspaper to ensure that the missing person has the opportunity to come forward should they still be alive. Second, you must attend a High Court hearing to finalise proceedings. Only at this point will the Court issue a certificate of presumed death which allows you to apply for probate and carry out your duties as the executor of the person in question’s estate.

Prestige Tax and Trust Services

Operating as the executor of somebody’s estate after they have passed away can prove complex. Therefore you may want to enlist expert help to ensure you conduct these necessary tasks effectively. Prestige Tax and Trust Services provides the legal expertise you need for executorship purposes.

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